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Yesterday featured historic collection of blowouts

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A matchup between the Warriors and Nuggets for first place in the Western Conference appeared to highlight yesterday’s NBA schedule – at least if Golden State cared. Already having proven themselves as back-to-back defending champions, the Warriors have been disinterested in other hyped games.

In one way, we got our wish. Golden State cared. But too much to make the game interesting. The Warriors scored an NBA-record 51 first-quarter points and put Denver away early in a 31-point win.

Yet, that was only the fourth-most-lopsided game of the night.

The 76ers beat the Timberwolves by 42. The Bucks beat the Heat by 38. The Pacers beat the Suns by 34.

Yesterday’s full slate:

  • 76ers 149, Timberwolves 107
  • Bucks 124, Heat 86
  • Pacers 131, Suns 97
  • Warriors 142, Nuggets 111
  • Hawks 142, Thunder 126
  • Lakers 107, Bulls 100

With an average margin of 28.0 points per game, that was the most-lopsided day in NBA history (minimum: four games), breaking the previous record of 27.8 on Feb. 11, 1968 and demolishing the previous record for a day with more than four games of 23.8 on Feb. 21, 1994.

Here are the most-lopsided days in NBA history (more than three games):

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Jan. 15, 2019 (six games)

Philadelphia 76ers 149, Minnesota Timberwolves 107

Milwaukee Bucks 124, Miami Heat 86

Indiana Pacers 131, Phoenix Suns 97

Golden State Warriors 142, Denver Nuggets 111

Atlanta Hawks 142, Oklahoma City Thunder 126

Los Angeles Lakers 107, Chicago Bulls 100

Feb. 11, 1968 (four games)

Los Angeles Lakers 141, Boston Celtics 104

Seattle SuperSonics 146, San Francisco Warriors 118

Philadelphia 76ers 119, St. Louis Hawks 93

Baltimore Bullets 136, San Diego Rockets 116

Nov. 12, 1966 (four games)

Los Angeles Lakers 144, Detroit Pistons 88

St. Louis Hawks 115, Boston Celtics 92

Philadelphia 76ers 112, Cincinnati Royals 98

New York Knicks 134, Baltimore Bullets 124

Oct. 21, 1961 (four games)

Philadelphia Warriors 132, New York Knicks 95

Boston Celtics 137, Detroit Pistons 102

Syracuse Nationals 123, Chicago Packers 103

Cincinnati Royals 138, St. Louis Hawks 129

Feb. 21, 1994 (six games)

Miami Heat 128, Washington Bullets 98

Utah Jazz 119, Philadelphia 76ers 92

Phoenix Suns 112, Sacramento Kings 86

San Antonio Spurs 114, Minnesota Timberwolves 89

Chicago Bulls 118, Charlotte Hornets 93

Dallas Mavericks 98, Detroit Pistons 88

Nov. 21, 1982 (four games)

Portland Trail Blazers 129, Cleveland Cavaliers 79

New Jersey Nets 111, Seattle SuperSonics 91

Los Angeles Lakers 143, Denver Nuggets 129

Milwaukee Bucks 109, Indiana Pacers 98

April 2, 1987 (four games)

Detroit Pistons 119, Indiana Pacers 73

Denver Nuggets 132, Golden State Warriors 96

Sacramento Kings 125, Los Angeles Clippers 115

Los Angeles Lakers 117, Seattle SuperSonics 114

Dec. 20, 1968 (five games)

New York Knicks 135, Detroit Pistons 87

Los Angeles Lakers 133, San Francisco Warriors 101

Baltimore Bullets 125, Chicago Bulls 102

Milwaukee Bucks 100, Seattle SuperSonics 92

Philadelphia 76ers 116, San Diego Rockets 109

Feb. 6, 1968 (four games)

Los Angeles Lakers 146, Cincinnati Royals 102

Detroit Pistons 120, San Diego Rockets 93

New York Knicks 121, St. Louis Hawks 100

San Francisco Warriors 126, Chicago Bulls 124

Feb. 4, 1987 (four games)

Los Angeles Lakers 128, Sacramento Kings 92

Dallas Mavericks 124, Seattle SuperSonics 94

Philadelphia 76ers 121, New Jersey Nets 95

Boston Celtics 104, Cleveland Cavaliers 102

March 19, 1972 (six games)

Los Angeles Lakers 162, Golden State Warriors 99

Cincinnati Royals 136, Buffalo Braves 105

Philadelphia 76ers 115, Seattle SuperSonics 100

Baltimore Bullets 125, Boston Celtics 112

Atlanta Hawks 115, Cleveland Cavaliers 105

Chicago Bulls 115, Detroit Pistons 107

March 16, 1968 (four games)

Los Angeles Lakers 135, Detroit Pistons 108

Boston Celtics 136, Baltimore Bullets 111

Philadelphia 76ers 144, Chicago Bulls 122

St. Louis Hawks 124, Seattle SuperSonics 106

Jan. 9, 1995 (four games)

Portland Trail Blazers 129, Los Angeles Lakers 83

Phoenix Suns 119, Milwaukee Bucks 102

Utah Jazz 106, Dallas Mavericks 90

Boston Celtics 114, Washington Bullets 101

Dec. 29, 1992 (six games)

Sacramento Kings 139, Dallas Mavericks 81

Seattle SuperSonics 111, Boston Celtics 87

Golden State Warriors 132, Houston Rockets 112

Cleveland Cavaliers 114, Atlanta Hawks 96

Chicago Bulls 114, Charlotte Hornets 103

New York Knicks 97, Indiana Pacers 91

Feb. 24, 1982 (six games)

Boston Celtics 132, Utah Jazz 90

Phoenix Suns 131, Cleveland Cavaliers 97

Indiana Pacers 118, New York Knicks 87

Portland Trail Blazers 123, Kansas City Kings 111

Houston Rockets 120, Denver Nuggets 110

Milwaukee Bucks 113, New Jersey Nets 106

Gordon Hayward does not plan to leave bubble for birth of son

Gordon Hayward birth of son
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When Boston first went to the NBA restart bubble in Orlando, Gordon Hayward was upfront: He was leaving the bubble for the birth of his fourth child.

Hayward ended up leaving the bubble for another reason β€” he severely sprained his ankle and was out for more than a month. During his rehab, Hayward left the bubble and spent time at home, returning a couple of weeks ago. Saturday he played his first game back for Boston, helping it to a win against the Heat.

Hayward’s wife, Robyn, has yet to have their son, but now Hayward does not plan to leave the bubble for the event, something first reported by Rachel Nichols of ESPN during Saturday’s game.

Hayward confirmed this after the game. So did Robyn in a social media post, adding the reports she was in labor already were not true.

I don’t envy the Hayward family having to make this choice. As a parent, I can’t imagine having missed the births of any of my children, but, like everything else in 2020, this is far from a typical decision at a typical time. The Haywards are making the best of it they can. They deserve support no matter what they choose.

LeBron James, Dion Waiters’ son engage in a little trash talk

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“Yeah, right.”

That was Dion Waiters Jr.’s response to pretty much everything LeBron James during the Lakers’ practice on Saturday before Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

LeBron was getting up some corner threes and told Waiters Jr. he would make 100 straight.

“Yeah, right.”

When LeBron missed one,Β “I missed that on purpose.”Β 

“Yeah, right.”

“I missed that on purpose, so you’d think I’m human,” LeBron joked.

Got to love Dion Waiters Jr. β€” he’s got some of his dad’s spunk.

Families have been allowed in the bubble for teams for a couple of weeks, although LeBron’s sons are not there, with LeBron saying it’s not a great place for kids (he’s right, for anyone over about 7 or 8, there would be little to do).

Aggressive, attacking Boston drives right into heart of Miami defense, wins Game 3

Boston Miami
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On Boston’s first possession of the game, Marcus Smart drove right to the rim and got an and-1 on a reverse layup.

Next possession, Jaylen Brown got a bucket cutting for a layup, with the assist from Smart. Next possession, Brown drove the lane and banked in a floater. The next Boston bucket was a Jayson Tatum driving layup.

The first nine Boston points came with them attacking the heart of the Miami defense (going at Duncan Robinson in particular), and that continued all game with the Celtics getting 60 points in the paint.

“Boston came out with great force. You have to give them credit for that,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said after the game.

Throw in 31 quality minutes from Gordon Hayward in his return from a sprained ankle β€” providing more quality wing play and good decision making β€” and Boston raced out to a comfortable lead then hung on at the end for a 117-106 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat lead the series 2-1, with Game 4 not until Wednesday night (a little delay to allow the West to catch up).

After a sloppy Game 2 loss where the Celtics became passive in the face of Miami’s zone defense in the second half, followed by a postgame meltdown and meeting of the minds, the guys at the heart of the Celtics young core stepped up their game on Saturday night.

Particularly Brown, who had 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting and was getting to the rim all game. He also was playing smothering defense.

Smart β€” an All-Defensive Team player β€” had his best game of the series, blanketing Goran Dragic, who had been the Heat’s best scorer and shot creator through two games. Without Dragic breaking down the Celtics’ defense and getting points in the paint, Miami has to live by the three and the Celtics defenders did a better job staying home.

“Marcus’ ball pressure on Dragic was important,” Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens said postgame. “It’s something we need to continue to look at. Marcus did a great job on a guy who is playing better than I’ve ever seen him.”

Boston also got more minutes from Gordon Hayward than expected, minutes Stevens called a “stabilizing force” for the team.

“I’m extremely tired right now. My ankle is pretty sore,” Hayward said postgame, adding with the extra days off he should be good to go for Game 4.

Hayward’s presence also allowed Boston to play small ball without Daniel Theis or any true center on the floor, the Celtics switched everything defensively, and Miami didn’t take advantage. Look for Eric Spoelstra to turn to more Bam Adebayo against that small lineup next game.

“They got us on our heels. They were out there hooping and having fun. I guess that was the difference in the game,” Bam Adebayo said postgame.

Miami didn’t shoot the ball well Saturday night, hitting just 27.3% from three. Jae Crowder, who had been hot, was 2-of-8 from deep, while Tyler Herro was 4-of-12. Adebayo had 27 points and 16 boards to lead the Heat.

Boston had four players with more than 20 points: Brown (26), Tatum (25), Kemba Walker (21), and Smart (20).

Boston will need another game like that β€” and they will need to close better, Miami made it interesting late β€” to even the series on Wednesday.

Miami said postgame they saw what happened in this game as a challenge to them. Game 4 is going to be intense.

Ja Morant points out one person who didn’t vote him Rookie of the Year

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Ja Morant was not the unanimous Rookie of the Year β€” 99 out of 100 media members voted for him, one voted for Zion Williamson.

When the media votes became public Saturday, Morant got to see who the one voter who voted for someone else was: Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Crowley stood up for his vote, and everything was good between them (at least on social media).

While the votes come from media members, the NBA goes out of its way to put together voters who see things differently, something ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne talked about is an excellent thread on Twitter, although she was speaking about the case for LeBron James over Giannis Antetokounmpo for MVP.

To be clear, I was one of the Morant voters, and I will readily admit that Zion is the better player (at least right now). I consider the impact on winning heavily when voting, which led me to Morant because he played 59 games before the bubble and had his team in a playoff position, while Zion played only 19 and did not (only games before the NBA restart in Orlando were to be considered, per NBA rules). I also expect and respect the fact that not everyone will see it that way, or even define what matters most in winning the award the same way. Diversity of thought and views is a good thing, it leads to better outcomes. Crowley should vote what he sees and believes, and that should be respected.

Unanimous or not, Morant will go down as the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year. The voting will be a footnote at most.